By Sandrine Berges (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics
A woman was more severely punished in ancient Greece for cheating on her husband than a man was for cheating on his wife. 41 The gender-specific aspects of Perictione’s text seem to be imposed by circumstances rather than essential to her thought. Indeed, we have a glimpse into a more gender-neutral view of justice when she says that women might benefit the city if they are virtuous, provided they are allowed to rule. , virtuous in the same manner) by stating that laws punish women for faults that are excused in men.
At the same time, Abelard, trying to convince Heloise that her true lover is not him but Christ, draws an almost erotic picture of a nun’s relationship with Christ, a nun as a soft-fleshed lover secluded in Jesus’s bedroom, a woman who wears unattractive clothes whenever she is in anybody else’s company. He also 38 A Feminist Perspective on Virtue Ethics reminds her that their affair was perhaps not entirely blameless even after they married, as they once had sex in the refectory of the convent of Argenteuil where Heloise went to live after their wedding.
Aristoxenus is not supposed to be particularly accurate (not many historical or biographical records in the ancient world were), and Cicero is renowned for his vanity and propensity to name-drop. Relying on this kind of evidence is not only a lazy approach to the history of philosophy but an exclusivist practice. We are trusting men in a position of influence to tell us who or what mattered and using this information to exclude from consideration those who typically were not powerful; that is, women.